Fulham were unwilling to sell Tom Cairney to Newcastle United in the summer transfer window as they saw the Scotland international as key to their promotion hopes for 2017/18.
With The Cottagers stuck in 17th after a hugely underwhelming start to the season, however, it appears that Newcastle are now hopeful that Fulham will be a little more receptive to offers for their talismanic number ten.
The Northern Echo reports that Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez will prioritise a move for Cairney in the January window – regardless of whether or not the club’s takeover has been completed by the New Year.
Cairney is understood to be one of The Magpies’ main targets during the summer months but, after making a number of approaches, Fulham eventually turned down a club-record offer of £20 million for a player who scored 13 goals and set up another ten in the Championship last season.
The report adds that the 26-year-old has only recently signed a contract extension to keep him at Craven Cottage until 2021 – but with Fulham’s promotion prospects dwindling Slavisa Jokanovic’s side may be tempted to cash in.
And the one-time Hull City youngster would provide Newcastle with some much needed creativity in the centre of the park.
Benitez does not have a natural number ten at his disposal with Mo Diame and Ayoze Perez failing to convince in the role in recent weeks. And a lack of creativity has been exposed during a run of one win in six games, during which time Newcastle have scored just four goals.
Cairney, a player capable of producing something out of very little, could rectify that issue.